I studied History at Manchester before writing a PhD on British communism in the University's then Department of Government. For some years I worked in archives and have been involved with various bodies dealing with labour and political archives including the cataloguing and subsequent digitisation of the archives of the British communist party (CPGB). I was appointed Lecturer in Government at Manchester in 1993 and am currently Professor of Politics and Contemporary History and recipient of an AHRC Fellowship for the project ‘Communism and the cult of the leader’.
Throughout my time at Manchester I have been heavily involved in collaborative projects including five edited collections of essays and a series of international collaborations. From 1999-2006 I edited the journal Socialist History and in 1996 I launched at Manchester the Communist History Network Newsletter
, which after twenty-two issues was succeeded in 2009 by Twentieth Century Communism: a journal of twentieth century history
, of which I remain an editor (http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/twentiethcenturycommunism/about.html
) . I am also a trustee to the Communist Party of Great Britain Archives Trust and the Working Class Movement Library.
Among the PhD topics I have supervised or co-supervised to successful completion are Counter memories of the Chile Coup (Shirin Hirsch, 2013); Kropotkin, Read and Anarchist-Communism (Matthew Adams, 2011); The Conservative Party and comprehensive education (Piers Legh, 2011); The British birth control movement between the wars (Clare Debenham, 2011); Margot Kettle: On being young and left-wing in the thirties (Joseph Maslen, 2010); Tocqueville and Marx on England (Constantin Davidescu, 2007); Conservative party campaigning in the north of England (Peter Stafford, 2002); The Communist Party of Great Britain and the 'collapse of socialism' (Richard Cross, 2002); The character and implantation of working-class activism in the Manchester area (Andrew Flinn, 1999); Reflections on the Labour Party's 'ruling doctrine' 1987-92 (Rob Copeland, 1997).
I teach undergraduate modules on modern British politics and Political Ideologies, and a postgraduate module on Archival Research.
I have interviewed and written for radio, television and the national press.